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Socialism Causes Slow Growth and Is Prone to Violence
Raymond Richman, 2/7/2017

During the recent presidential election, candidates for the Democratic Party nomination included a self-styled “democratic socialist”, Sen. Bernie Sanders. The adjective democratic is used by him to distinguish himself from totalitarian socialists like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, both noted for the number of their citizens they killed. Violence was a trademark of the Nazis, the National Socialist party of Germany, but our mixed-economy, defined as partially socialist, is not without violence from socialists. Sanders’ followers used violence to prevent a Trump rally in Chicago during the recent Republican primary for President and they organized protests at most of his rallies. Even post-election the violence continues. The violence at our Universities aimed to prevent conservatives from speaking is a manifestation of socialist intolerance for anti-socialist ideas.

Socialists seem unable to accept the reality of Trump’s election and anti-Trump protests continue. The reader may argue that many protestors are Democrats who do not consider themselves to be socialists.  But to be a Democrat you have to believe in government intervention in the economy, in the mixed economy, an economy with increasing socialist  tendencies.

Socialist are utopian and a world free of competition has always been attractive to young people. I believed in a cooperative commonwealth as a young man. But when I observed the co-op movement in England that created the first supermarket but failed to expand and that co-ops in the U.S. refused to branch out, I realized that co-ops and socialist governments lacked the incentives necessary to grow and develop, lacked the dynamism of a free market economy.

There have been many religious socialist communities in the U.S. but none have survived, Amana which lasted for nearly a century in Iowa, the New Harmony communities in NY and Pa. The founder of the Mormon religion, Joseph Smith and his brother, envisioned a religious utopia, but he and his brother were murdered by other Christians. Later, Mormons abandoned the idea of a utopian community. Utah became a secular State. Religions until the 20th century were often intolerant of other religions and often used force against one another, the Crusades for example. Some Muslims still continue to seek expansion of their religion by force. It is taught in the Koran and still pursued by ISIS, Al Queda, and other Moslem sects. Such methods enabled the Muslims to become the second most numerous religion. Christians and Jews have long abandoned the use of force to convert infidels. 

All religions are Utopian and most tend to be socialistic. Socialists have generally abandoned their religious foundation and are secular utopians. Sen. Sanders was born a Jew but became an atheist as he embraced secular socialism, including admiration for totalitarian socialism as evidenced by his honeymoon in the USSR. History tells us that religious and secular socialism has always used every means including violence to secure and maintain power.  But no utopias ever survive. They require the use of force to stay in power. They seem unable to compete in the world of ideas. Socialists are prone to the use of force to protect and expand socialism. Many socialists thought otherwise, believing in a peaceful transition to socialism.

Eduard Bernstein of Germany was one of the first socialists to consider a legal and peaceful transition to socialism possible. Early believers included French socialists who came to power like Leon Blum of France and the Fabian socialists of England like George Atlee and Harold Wilson both of whom became prime ministers. They gave up power in free elections, but they showed that socialists cannot sustain a dynamic economy. In the U.S., we had Eugene Debs who ran as a Socialist candidate for President of the United States five times and Norman Thomas who ran six times for the Presidency, the maximum number of votes either achieved was 6%.

Democratic socialists made possible the modern mixed economies that dominate the Americas and Europe and some of countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. So we owe much to those socialists that resisted totalitarianism. But there is a negative side to religious and democratic socialism. Socialist encroachments in government tend to slow economic growth. The more socialist a society, the slower it grows. One sees this not only in Africa, the middle East, and South America, but it is the main cause in advanced industrial countries as well. China stagnated under Chou en Lai and Mao Tse Tung, but started to grow when the communist regime tolerated private enterprises. Capitalism has been the real engine of economic growth world-wide, capable of enabling individual creativity and innovation, and of enormously raising standards of living.  

If you are a democratic socialist, all you need to do is look around. There is hardly a single product among the tens of thousands in supermarkets, department stores, hardware stores, specialty stores, or on Amazon or E-bay that was invented by governments. It is true that government research has produced some new products, some important, often induced by wars, but they are infinitesimal compared to the number of products produced without government  assistance.

The much slower growth of the U.S. economy in recent decades is partly a result of the fact that federal government expenditures have increased as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product from 1.8 percent to 6.7 percent or more than 3.5 times since 1929.  Nearly 60 percent of the increase in federal government expenditures was for entitlement programs such as social security, medical care, ands welfare but the rest was for inefficient intrusion in the economy. The Federal Government has been encroaching on the private economy as government has already done in Europe.  

Standards of living around the world would be much higher were it not for the depressing effect of increased government, i.e., if increasing socialism. 

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